Friday, October 2, 2015

Addressing the UN General Assembly yesterday (1.10), Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Greece is striving to bolster peace, stability and regional security, even as it copes with three complex challenges – an economic crisis, unprecedented migration flows, and huge numbers of refugees.

In his speech, Tsipras pointed to the deterioration of the country’s economy since the 2008 economic downturn and the 'devastating social cost' of the measures Greece has implemented since it signed its first bailout in 2010, repeating calls for debt relief. He urged for a global financial and economic system oriented to fostering national growth strategies and raising the issue of debt restructuring in all competent forums. Greece needs a growth and not a new austerity agenda; his government would implement deep reforms but also focus on growth-inducing measures "to protect the most vulnerable members of society", he added.

Referring to the refugee crisis, he stressed that Europe and our world cannot be "built on ever-higher walls, or children dying at our doorstep", and that Greece was 'taken aback' by "unprecedented migration flows" of more than 300,000 people, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.

The country is making every effort to manage the influx of refugees, Tsipras assured, and praised Greeks for showing 'solidarity' with migrants and refugees and giving them food and shelter. He called for more assistance to frontline European states, such as Greece, in their effort to manage these flows and for "a resettlement mechanism from countries neighbouring Syria, while also supporting them directly in hosting refugees and dismantling trafficking networks".

The PM further noted that Greece is also at the centre of a third security crisis responsible that causes this refugee crisis, lying at the heart of a triangle of destabilization, with Ukraine to its North, and the conflicts in Libya and in the Middle East to its SW and SE. He argued that the Middle East Peace process is of key importance for the region and extended Greece’s full support to intercommunal talks to resolve the Cyprus issue, and to improve Greek-Turkish relations and cooperation.

Watch C-SPAN video: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Address to the U.N.

The Tomb of Amphipolis - one of the Top 10 discoveries of 2014 according to the Archaelogical Institute of America, and one that generated mounts of speculation as to its identity and contents - was commissioned and financed by Alexander the Great in honour of his beloved friend and general in his army, Hephaestion, it was revealed Wednesday September 30. 

In the course of a presentation at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, "Searching Kasta Hill in Amphipolis 2012-2014", chief archaeologist at the excavation Katerina Peristeri described the new evidence and insisted on her initial view that it is a memorial constructed at the end of the 4thCentury BC.

According to Peristeri, the findings revealed that the tomb was designed by architects Dinokrates or Stesikrates and erected at the end of the 4thcentury BC by Antigonus I Monophthalmus.

The archaeological team was able to decode three inscriptions recently found in the area uncovering the mystery. Michalis Lefantzis, the architect responsible for the excavation, said that the secret of the tomb lies on the monument’s top, where a wooden pole was placed to support the Lion, with the inscriptions revealing the name 'Hephaestion' through a monogram.

The National Technical University of Athens and the School of Architecture are organizing a series of events on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Le Corbusier, one of the most emblematic and influential figures of modernism in architecture.

The events form part of a wider framework of celebrations in commemoration of the famous architect and urban planner, beginning Oct. 6 with the group exhibition "In the name of Le Corbusier", which will take place at the Spiteri Residence, built by Aristomenis Provelegios - a clear reference to the work of Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier had a close relationship with Greece, which will be highlighted through the exhibition "The Greek Corbusier".

His relationship with Greece was vivid from the 30s to the 60s, and 18 Greek architects studied in his studio. His mark on Greece is clear through the "Xenia" hotels - planned by Aris Konstantinidis - greatly  influenced by him. 

The events are supported by the French Institute, the Swiss Embassy, the Greek Docomomo and other cultural or scientific entities.

Sunglasses are a must for every Greek city dweller, and so Dimitris Diamantis thought of combining Greek habits with expertise, creating Urban Owl sunglasses, which promise vision of high definition. Joining the growing league of Greek sun-glasses designers, Diamantis uses special high definition lenses which filter sunlight in ways that enhance vision without colour distortion, and prevent eye fatigue by neutralising blue light. 
The glasses are handcrafted exclusively in Greece, using materials of the highest standards with exceptional quality and craftsmanship, and the design is rather retro-style.

Diamantis insists that "once you try them, you never want to go back to conventional sunglasses", adding that he and his team of partners wish to encourage young entrepreneurs to materialise their dreams in Greece. "I wish for my project to work and that it becomes a source of inspiration for others". After all, the industry is in need of a whole new...perspective.

In the early 1990s, Nikiforos Diamandouros – academic, Ombudsman of Greece (1998 - 2003) and Ombudsman for the European Union (2003 - 2013) – referred to a "cultural dualism" that was deeply entrenched in post-1974 (post-dictatorship) Greece as "a tug of war between an ‘underdog’ and a modernizing political culture". 

This has since been disseminated to political discourse and has become a reference point for understanding modern Greece and the country's relation with Europe; the question arising is whether the Greek crisis is the precursor of a systemic crisis of the neoliberal capitalism model (as the now Finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has systematically claimed) or whether the Greek crisis is largely due to the inability of Greek elites as well as the reform (in)capacity of the Greek state.

Two decades later and in the midst of euro-crisis, Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas, and Hara Kouki, as editors of the seminal "The Greek Crisis and European Modernity" (Palgrave, 2013) explore similar questions. By critically reviewing the path to modernization that Greece has taken, the book uses Greece to illustrate and exemplify the contradictions of the dominant paradigm of European modernity with its inherent ruptures, and the alternative modernity discourses that develop within Europe.

Contributions include an illuminating introduction (Is Greece a Modern European Country?) and chapters on The Orthodox Church in Greece (Stavros Zoumboulakis), Welfare State in Greece (Manos Matsaganis), European Currency Union and the Euro Crisis (Loukas Tsoukalis), "Memoranda" and Greek Exceptionalism (George Katrougalos), The Crisis in Greece in Its Global Context (Yanis Varoufakis) as well as a post-script on Cultural Dualism (Nikiforos Diamandouros).